The week in cloud: Bezos rationalizes AWS feature churn; OpenStackers cue up news

Bezos: more is more when it comes to AWS updates, price cuts

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

In his annual letter to shareholders (PDF) on Friday, Amazon(s amzn) CEO Jeff Bezos, reiterated his company’s rage to update features and functions (and then cut prices) on Amazon Web Services.

According to Bezos, AWS which he characterized as a “clear example of internally driven motivation” put out 159 new features and services in 2012 and cut prices 27 times since launching 7 years ago. (Frankly, 27 sounds like an undercount to me, but he’s the boss.)

He also touted Amazon’s commitment to enterprise customers. Amazon has

“… added enterprise service support enhancements, and created innovative tools to help customers be more efficient. AWS Trusted Advisor monitors customer configurations, compares them to known best practices, and then notifies customers where opportunities exist to improve performance, enhance security, or save money. Yes, we are actively telling customers they’re paying us more than they need to. In the last 90 days, customers have saved millions of dollars through Trusted Advisor, and the service is only getting started. All of this progress comes in the context of AWS being the widely recognized leader in its area – a situation where you might worry that external motivation could fail. On the other hand, internal motivation – the drive to get the customer to say “Wow” – keeps the pace of innovation fast.”

The lastest tidbit for enterprise users was this week’s addition of support for Microsoft Hyper-V support in Amazon’s Storage Gateway. For more on Bezos’ letter, here’s  PaidContent’s Laura Hazard Owen’s take.

Bezos’ letter comes at a time when more observers question whether AWS really is the low-cost option when it comes to non-variable (inelastic) production workloads — as opposed to development and test jobs — but that’s a quibble. Until one or more of the OpenStack crowd or, more likely, Google Compute Engine, hits its stride, AWS remains the public cloud to beat.

OpenStack: the ABM (Anyone But Amazon) alliance?

full openstack cloud software logoThe OpenStack crowd is getting larger. This week — barring last minute delays at Monday’s board meeting — Juniper Networks and Ericsson — should be aboard the OpenStack Foundation as Gold members, as GigaOM reported Friday. Both companies were already sponsoring companies but board membership brings a bigger financial contribution and presumably more influence. With them in the fold and especially after VMware(s vmw) joined last summer, it’s become easier to list which vendors are not in the OpenStack ecosystem than those who are. And that list would be Amazon, Google, Joyent, Microsoft and Oracle.

OpenStack, when it was born more than 3 years ago was an attempt by Rackspace and NASA to build an open-source alternative to Amazon in the public cloud and to prevent VMware from leveraging its virtualization lock in enterprise data centers into the cloud. The effort, as measured by by third-party vendor support has exploded since then, especially after Rackspace turned over the reins to the OpenStack Foundation two years ago. Since then the floodgates opened with HP(s hpq), IBM(s ibm), Red Hat(s rhat), Cisco(s cisco), Dell(s dell), joining younger companies — like Cloudscaling, Nebula, Piston Cloud (see disclosure) on the effort. Let’s see, that would be Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and Joyent. Or as Joyent CTO Jason Hoffman quipped — giving his company top billing OpenStack would be the “Anybody but JAMOG” alliance.

Piston Cloud updates

PistonPerhaps seeking to beat the rush that’s bound to come next week at the OpenStack Summit, Piston Cloud (see disclosure) brought out Release 2.0 of its OpenStack cloud, or as InformationWeek called it “OpenStack on a stick.”

According to Informationweek:

“The customer sets a few configuration parameters on the cloud key memory stick, then inserts it into the USB port of a top-of-rack’s Ethernet switch. The system loads into the Linux server space of the switch, discovers the servers in the rack, and configures them into a system with virtual machine provisioning, pooled storage and networking and cloud management.”

Disclosure: Piston is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.